15 April 2021 by Joshua Doherty

Coffee pod recycling scheme goes live

A “first of its kind” recycling programme for coffee pods goes live today, and includes kerbside collections from two local authorities.

The scheme, called Podback, was formed in November by Nestle and Jacobs Douwe Egberts UK, who both own a number of coffee pod brands in the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).

Pods being recycled at Tandom Metallurgical Group Ltd, in Congleton, near Stoke-on-Trent

From today, consumers of coffee brands including Nespresso, Nescafé Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, L’OR and Starbucks at Home will be able to recycle pods through one collective scheme.

This can be done in two ways:

  • Collect+ delivered by Yodel: Consumers will be able to take their used coffee pods to their nearest drop-off point. There are thousands of drop-off points in local stores across the UK, open seven days a week. Consumers can order recycling bags directly from any of the participating Podback brands online and will also be available in supermarkets soon.
  • Kerbside collection: More than 200,000 people living across Cheltenham borough council and South Derbyshire district council will be able to sign up to use kerbside recycling for their coffee pods. Used pods will be collected alongside other household waste and recycling from 10 May. Consumers can check whether their area is eligible, how each council will run the collection service, and order recycling bags via podback.org

Guillaume Chesneau, board director of Podback and managing director of Nespresso UK and Ireland, said: “For over 10 years, our mission has been to ensure that every single pod that customers enjoy will be recycled.

“Today marks a significant step towards this ambition and joining forces with our industry partners to deliver kerbside collection will make recycling pods much simpler and easier for customers. We hope local authorities and retailers up and down the UK will join us on this ambitious journey to make this a future reality.”

“For over ten years, our mission has been to ensure that every single pod that customers enjoy will be recycled”

Guillaume Chesneau, Podback

Process

Pods are predominately made of plastic, but also contain a small amount of aluminium.

While pods are currently technically recyclable, consumers not part of the kerbside system must order a recycling bag for the pods and once full, print off a label and take it to a collection point.

According to Podback, the sorting and reprocessing stages are overseen fully by its partners in the UK, meaning it has “complete visibility over what happens to the pods”.

After collection, the coffee pod materials will be separated from the used coffee grounds. The plastic and aluminium pods will be processed separately in the UK, Podback says, with plastic pods producing “high grade plastic pellets which will be used by manufacturers to produce high grade plastic items”, while the aluminium ingots can create beverage cans, car spare parts and “other everyday objects”.  

The coffee grounds will go through anaerobic digestion producing a combination of biogas and soil improver.  

Aluminium will be processed by Tandom Metallurgical Group Ltd in Congleton, near Stoke-on-Trent. Plastic pods will be reprocessed by Roydon in Swinton, near Manchester.

‘Fantastic’

Richard Howatson, board director of Podback, said: “It’s fantastic to have our first local authority partners on board – we’re looking forward to expanding even further over the coming months, making pod coffee more sustainable and kerbside collections of pods a reality for more households across the country. In the meantime, we encourage all consumers to use the scheme and for other brands and retailers to join Podback.”

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